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DeFrancesco: My beef with Brandel, and why I criticize TV announcers



After reading through the GolfWRX forum thread “Brandel Chamblee Says Some Idiotic Things” ( ) and seeing my name come up multiple times I thought I might take a moment to explain why I take the time to challenge Chamblee in video commentary available on my website. It is important to note that, at least in my mind, I did not pick this fight; rather, Chamblee instigated it when he singled out “modern instruction” (the “cookie-cutter, scientific approach to teaching”) as a “cancer” on the game.

In a 2010 interview (, Chamblee had this response to being asked what he meant by ‘cancer on the game’:

“…the golf swing is art, but it is taught as a science. That’s a confining way to learn the game, and it is bad both for players who learn that way — I go back to swings like Scott, Donald and Howell — and for golf in general. When you learn the swing by watching and obsessing over videotape you become fixated on your flaws, on perfection.”

Well, I happen to use video all the time when I teach. In fact, I will use almost any means I can think of to help people play a game that is truthfully too difficult for the average player to attain any semblance of mastery. I take Chamblee’s overreaching statements as an attack on who I am and what I do (as well as just about everyone who tries to make a living teaching golf), and when I am challenged I will fight back with arguments backed up by visual evidence. Fortunately, I have a YouTube channel, GolfWRX column and a website that give me an opportunity to voice my opinions, and while not reaching anywhere near the amount of people that a commentator of Chamblee’s status does, I still have a voice that gets heard.

Let me offer a short list of what I consider the major issues here, and then talk about them in more detail.

  1. Chamblee (as well as all the other commentators/analysts on the Golf Channel and the major networks) has the bully pulpit. He is constantly on screen and is viewed by hundreds of thousands of people daily. What he says matters, as many (not all, of course) take both the subjective and technical information they get from the Golf Channel and use it to form their own opinions and apply it to their own golf swings.
  2. Chamblee has an extremely negative opinion of teaching pros that use technology to help their students. This “technology” includes video, launch monitors, 3D Motion Analysis and any other methods he considers “scientific.”
  3. He has repeatedly attacked Tiger Woods’ decision making regarding the management of his golf game, in spite of the fact that Tiger has amassed the greatest record of any golfer in history other than Jack Nicklaus.

It is only recently that television announcers on golf broadcasts have been held accountable for the things they say. For example, if they have it in their minds that lowering (or “dipping,” as they like to call it) during a golf swing is a bad thing, they point out the presence of lowering every time a player hits a bad shot. In my extensive study of the golf swing, and that would include the swings of the greats (past and present), plus the swings of all my students, most of whom are not great and make up every possible level of player in existence, I have found that most great ball strikers have lowered significantly by the time they hit the golf ball. Some lower in the backswing and then again in the forward swing (Hogan and Woods). Some lower only in the forward swing (Nicklaus and Nelson). Some lower only in the backswing (Els, Lema), but you have to really look hard to find anyone who stays at the same height throughout the swing.

This is a perfect example of how “conventional wisdom” is perpetuated in spite of copious evidence to the contrary. If the announcers did their homework, I wouldn’t have anything to complain about. My job is to help the people who come to me for lessons. They are usually fairly serious golfers (they have to be somewhat serious as lessons aren’t cheap) and they watch golf on television.

I know they are listening because I field their questions every day, and the information they pick up on golf telecasts comes up in our lessons. I find myself explaining regularly how the things they hear on television are highly questionable, and when I hear it and see it myself I can now, through the miracle of DVR, save it and then spend some time analyzing just what was being said. With side by side video, I can show clearly that what is being said is many times simply wrong, which helps me to dispel some of the myths that populate the game.

I am not trying to come off as a know-it- all or as some kind of golf swing genius. Rather, I have a genuine belief that people deserve to know what actually happens in a swing as opposed to the tired old adages that masquerade as “fundamentals,” and I have received tons of comments thanking me for the detailed explanations I provide, especially the ones that free people up to make a more athletic swing at the ball. Thus, I find it exciting to be able to show beyond a shadow of a doubt that good players don’t “stay level” and “maintain their posture,” and that the good ball strikers never swing “down the line,” even though they may “feel” and state that they do exactly that.

It is beyond me that the Golf Channel, which serves up golf instruction as a major component of its programming, would have on staff someone with a publicly avowed distaste for “modern instruction,” the type of instruction on display every day when you tune in to watch. I have always encouraged teachers to play competitively and to do everything they can to maintain and improve their own golf games, but Chamblee longs for the days when ex-Tour players were the teachers, imparting their knowledge based entirely on experience, focusing on feel and instinct rather than technique. Only someone who has never held a teaching position could have such an opinion.

If Chamblee spent a week doing what I do (giving 40 hours of lessons mostly to people who struggle to make solid contact), he would certainly change his tune. He would know for a fact that people can’t take a suggestion and put it into action without any and every type of aid possible. The better technology gets, the more tools teachers have to try to help their students. I would agree that there are cases where teachers overindulge in the use of machines and swing aids, and fail to use basic hands-on methods, but for a teaching pro to avoid using at least some of the available tools is to guarantee that he or she is not going to give the student everything they should be getting from a lesson.

I have no idea how teachers function without video. Impact is impossible to see without the ability to slow it down and study it, and a lesson becomes guesswork when this crucial component is left out. If Chamblee is going to call what I do to help my students a “cancer on the game,” then you had better believe I am going to fight back with an argument that refutes his misguided opinions.

Lastly, when it comes to Tiger Woods, I just don’t see how someone can question the way Tiger has managed his game. Players change things around all the time. Tiger is the only one scrutinized and questioned, which is, of course, ludicrous, as his record dwarfs any player currently competing. Chamblee’s arguments regarding Tiger’s various changes are also ridiculous. It’s Tiger’s game to do with as he pleases, and he continues to win. Even though he hasn’t won a major since 2008, he’s still won 79 PGA Tour events, 40 European Tour events, 17 World Golf Championship events, three U.S. Amateurs, and three U.S. Junior Amateur Championships. His record is mind-boggling.

What Brandel doesn’t understand is that with all the tools available today, the golf teacher is more like the NASCAR mechanic. He works on the car: he doesn’t tell the driver how to drive. When the mechanics are good and the player plays his own game, good things happen. Tiger understands this. Chamblee does not.

I often draw my own critics who question my credentials as a player and teacher, and the GolfWRX thread is no exception. I have played in six majors and three senior majors. I was a first team All-American in college, and although I never made the Tour, I did have a nice career as a club professional, winning three State Opens and the National Club Pro Championship in 2001.

As a teacher, I have made the Golf Digest Top 50 and Golf Magazine’s Top 100 lists, and have worked with thousands of players, from beginners to Tour professionals. That’s why I feel that I am uniquely qualified to question Chamblee’s and other announcer’s pronouncements regarding golf swing technique and other golf related subjects, especially when I can back up any and all of my statements with very specific and detailed evidence using video.

When I do a controversial or critical video it is not just for effect. I choose to highlight what I consider to be gross negligence on the part of the announcers. Mostly, these videos have to do with swing technique, and if I make a statement that is contrary to what is being stated on the air I always back up my assertions with video of top players past and present. I think that it is important for the public to get proper information regarding swing technique, and I will continue to be vigilant in keeping the announcers on their toes.

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Wayne has been playing tournament golf for more than 40 years and teaching golf for over 27 years. He is the Director of Instruction at Lakewood CC in Rockville, Maryland and is founder of the Wayne Defrancesco Golf Learning Center (WDGLC). Wayne has spent countless hours analyzing some of the greatest golf legends both past and present in order to teach his Pivot Compression Golf Swing technique. Visit and you will spend hours watching FREE videos and reading articles created with the sole purpose to help people become the best golfers they can be. Become a better ball striker with Wayne's Pivot Compression Golf Swing DVD:



  1. Balooba Nanasuki

    Nov 19, 2015 at 1:22 am

    Agree that Chamblee is clueless, Breed counterproductive, but so are you. I have seen what you teach. You need to dig some more….

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  3. bsoudi

    Dec 2, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    Late to the party, but this is too interesting. There is a tremendous bunching of the top players in the game – anybody can win on any given week. It takes more than just talent and work ethic (“digging it out of the dirt), because everyone is pretty damn talented and can work hard. So players are looking for an edge to get to the next level. First it was teaching pros. Everyone did that. Then it was mental coaches. Everyone does that. Then short game coaches. Everyone does that. So what’s next? Technology and science. Most everyone is doing that. Next is now data-driven practice and decision-making.

    It’s funny because Chamblee and others posting here sound like baseball scouts 15 years ago. “Who needs numbers when you can just SEE how good a guy is? GRUMBLE.” “It’s just feel.” “Just work hard.” “It’s all between the ears.” We’re beyond that now.

    Not saying everyone is that way – for every Mickelson “just playing golf” there’s another 10 guys having success using the tech to increase consistency.

  4. jc

    Nov 26, 2013 at 7:05 pm

    a lot of decent players can spot the flaw in other’s swings. I am not a pga teaching pro but I can fix errors and have done so bringing a 22 down to a 12. Of course, you can’t teach youth or strength which is nice if you want to crush the ball way out there but I can show you how to hit it straight, etc.

    What I would love to see if all the famous instructors play 18 holes for real.

  5. Ross

    Nov 18, 2013 at 3:34 pm

    There is no one on tv that likes the sound of his own voice more than Chamblee. He is a legend in his own mind.

  6. Bart

    Nov 12, 2013 at 2:04 pm

    How many of y’all out there rekkin Trevino and his “Brink of Disaster” at point of contact, born of his out to in fade swing got it all wrong?. All performed amazingly well without the benefit of technology.

  7. KCCO

    Nov 12, 2013 at 12:55 pm

    Or practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect. I believe technology is an asset to fixing flaws in the golf swing. I don’t believe changing someone’s swing, rather then “tuning” what they have makes more of a positive impact on the player. But in the big picture, on course practice is gonna shave strokes. While video, track man etc will help fix certain aspects of swings, I will stand strongly behind a good teacher works with what you got, and makes some adjustments, but the most game changing affects will be seen practicing shots on the course. Being accompanied by a teacher while on course is even more effective. At least for me. Chamblee does say some annoying things, as does Johnny miller. In one ear, out the other. I find someone I’m comfortable with, and allow them to tune my game, not transform me into the model swing of the week seen on TV. Just an opinion, and really don’t know if it even relates or makes sense. But the end result of principle I spoke of has helped my game, and thank teachers/coaches who use this style of “tuning/teaching” if you will.

  8. Saul

    Nov 12, 2013 at 11:04 am

    Great article Wayne…It’s mind boggling the opinions that people have on Tiger’s game without having his success. Tiger is the reason for the modern golfer like it or not. Tiger is the prototype…sorry Adam Scott wishes to be Tiger everyday of his life. The only way to be number one in the world is when Tiger isn’t playing.

  9. joro

    Nov 11, 2013 at 3:10 pm

    So typical of a teacher who thinks he has the answers. Teaching is a racket, a scam, and it is taught over and over the same way, even the PGA teaching manual has it the same way, like you have to swing the way we say or else. As a class A PGA teachlng Pro for many years and former very good player I teach how to do it with what a student brings, not by the book, or the only way to do it is Michael Breeds way.

    I was a player in the 60s and started teaching in 63. I learned from a very good teacher who believed everyone is different, has different goals, and have limits to how good they can be. In other words, know the basics, be able to see the swing and what the hands do along with what the club does and where it goes. Using this method, which by the way takes a long time to be able to see the Golf swing in slow motion and the basic positions involved you can tell what is wrong immediately, and simply.

    Then there is the factor of ability, just like a worm cannot become a snake, everyone is not going to be Tiger Woods. It amazes me how many people get to the tour with their swing, win a big tournament and go off to some designer swing “Guru” and are never heard from again.

    No Wayne, you should not take it personal unless you are one of those “swing Gurus” who do the same by teaching one swing to every person. Don’t take anything personal no matter who it comes from cause even you can improve. After working for 50 yrs with beginners, good players, and even a few Tournament Pros, we can all learn something new, I know I have picked up a lot in my days. And abover all listen and don’t do all the talking.

  10. benseattle

    Nov 10, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    Sorry, Wayne, but methinks you protest a bit too much. From where I sit, when Brandel criticizes the use of video and other technological advances, I believe he’s referring to the Tour pro’s obsession — his devotion to playing “Golf Swing,” not golf. We’ve seen the Charles Howells of the world, outstanding as juniors and collegians who finally arrive on Tour and fail to live up to expectations. That simply leads to more full-swing practice, more video, more “perfect clubs” with weekly sessions on the launch monitor….. and no change in scores. This week Phil Mickelson did a wide-ranging interview on the Callaway website and he talks of not practicing on the range for more than 45 minutes but then playing A LOT in order be on the golf course to learn how to hit Golf Shots.

    Is video a great took for your amateurs who lack experience, knowledge and time to devote to the game? Absolutely, without question. (I’m just an amateur but I was capturing my own swing with movie film in the late 70’s.) But today’s touring professionals simply seem to believe if they hit more balls, check the video to eliminate that last final flaw and they’ll suddenly turn into Ben Hogan. Well, THAT’s not happening is it? They would be better off practicing less, playing more and upping the ante in money games both at home and on Tour. Learn to Play Golf — not “golf swing.”

    That’s my take on what Brandel is saying… a guy whose statistical support of his arguments is far often more right than wrong.

  11. Fred

    Nov 7, 2013 at 9:17 pm

    Wayne – turned on the Golf Channel today and there was Chamblee criticizing Tiger, once again, for not keeping his head on the same level throughout his swing. I’ve watched pros over the years and, like you mentioned in your article, Tiger isn’t the only player who has moved his head lower as he follows through with his drive. When he was through bashing with Tiger, Chamblee then went on to show us how Golf Channel’s favorite pro (at least for this month), Henrick Stenson, produces the “correct” swing. Funny… I noticed that Woods and Stenson are both even after the first round in Turkey. Excellent article, by the way.

  12. BennyBucks

    Nov 7, 2013 at 11:22 am

    As a disciple of Rory McIlroy, all I can say is that I wouldn’t know who you are, Wayne, if it wasn’t for your beef with Brandel Chamblee.

  13. TLMGolf

    Nov 7, 2013 at 9:23 am

    Good comments Wayne. Tech lets us all know the truth. But as Jessup said “you can’t handle the truth!” so great teachers dish it out in small samples. Not everyone with the truth can get the student to UNDERSTAND it.

    The issue should be – what does it take to get the ball into the hole? The swing is only a portion of the game. While important, there are far too many people fixating on their swing and its perfection who can’t break an egg.
    The public perception is that you are not considered a successful teacher unless you have Trackman, SAM putt lab et al. Those tend to be about the teacher more than the student. The coaching relationship ultimately is how improvement occurs.

    BC is good at what he does – getting attention.

  14. Andrew Cooper

    Nov 7, 2013 at 5:34 am

    “… I would agree that there are cases where teachers overindulge in the use of machines…”, Wayne, that is the real issue. Your videos are excellent and I’m sure you’re a first rate coach. The problem is not every coach equipped with video and Trackman also brings your experience and understanding of the game to their coaching. In the wrong hands the technology can be dangerous.
    Video makes it easy for lesser coaches to jump on any quirk, any “off plane” position, bring up Hunter Mahan (or whoever is their vision of swing perfection), draw lines, show the “fault”, send the pupil away with their “fixed” swing…That is the problem-how the techology is used.
    Your videos show the uniqueness of every great players swing. But despite the evidence, the “cookie cutter” swing teaching style Brandel Chamblee sees definitely still exists.

    • wayne defrancesco

      Nov 7, 2013 at 7:54 pm

      First of all it is well to remember that lesson taking is entirely voluntary. Players choose their teachers, and choose to continue or not voluntarily. It is always the student’s decision. Poor instruction usually finds its way into an empty book. If teachers don’t use the equipment well, they probably aren’t going to do very well without it either. Second, every teacher has “preferences”, and it is up to him or her to decide whether to try to approach these ideas, whether they are positions or movements or sequences or whatever, or to let some “natural” movements that don’t coincide with his vision stay in the mix. Lastly, that “cookie cutter” swing of Adam Scott’s is now being touted as the best of all time. Funny how a little success changes things. The real point is that it is ridiculous to not want to see what is really happening when you try to implement new ideas, especially considering that the swing is too fast to see in the impact area without the ability to slow it down.

      • Andrew Cooper

        Nov 8, 2013 at 7:47 am

        Thanks for the reply. I agree every teacher has “preferences”- Old school, new school, video or eye or whatever..bottom line is are they helping their pupils improve? Likewise pupils will respond positively or negatively to different teaching styles-and yes golfers take lessons voluntarily. That said the coach is in a position to influence how a player sees the game. I was tied in knots in my late teens trying to perfect my technique and slowly losing my confidence and feel for the game. It took an “old school” coach, a tour winner himself, to get me back on track; enjoying the game again, improving, understanding my swing, playing with confidence and feel. At first I thought he was crazy-not using video with me(once in 6 years), not wanting to change what I believed were my faults. But over time he fundamentally changed how I saw the game.
        So my experience has shaped how I see the game. If others, however, find success with video, Trackman, a more “technical” way-great. These tools are used well by good coaches.
        My concern is that they can also be used to imply that there is a “perfect” swing; a series of position that if a pupil ingrains will, machine like, produce perfect shots. I think video can also encourage an over emphasis on style, and distract from more intrinsic factors needed to play well-balance, rythym, athletic movement, feel for the club e.t.c.-what all tour players have in spades before using video.
        Lastly, I agree Adam Scott has a great swing-to watch, and of course its effectiveness is a given. But it’s his swing. Others can learn from it. But trying to copy it “cookie-cutter” style? I’m not sure about that.
        Again, thanks for the article and reply.

      • Geoffrey Alter

        Nov 10, 2013 at 6:40 pm

        Why is Adams swing cookie cutter? Isn’t the ball flight a pretty good indicator? I don’t discount technology and it’s ability to help a coach and player. At the end of the day, golf is played between the ears. That is what makes it so beautiful. No one way… Lastly, Benseattle is correct in that Brandel is making the point of playing golf swing, versus playing golf. Brandel’s point is that Tiger is an artist trying to use technology to paint his Rembrandt, whereas before he used a brush. And he has every right to voice it, just as you have every right to oppose it. The truth is always somewhere in the middle.

        A swing coach I am not. But I do possess the ability to discern the difference between tv analysis and what you do. And the ability to know that all of it needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Lately, opinions have become libel, and sides are taken based more on preference of who you follow, rather than by what people say. Listening has become a lost art. Too much technology instead of actual listening.

        • KCCO

          Nov 12, 2013 at 3:05 pm

          I don’t think he was saying Adam Scott’s swing was cookie cutter, was implying not to mimic every aspect of it, rather than taking pieces and utilizing them in your own personal swing thought/style.

  15. GSark

    Nov 6, 2013 at 10:28 pm

    I learned golf both ways… Never had a Formal “lesson”. I read Harveys Little Red Golf Book. I read Hogans Five Lessons. I practiced with my eyes close in my bare feet to feel the rhythm and tempo of the swing while I hummed a waltz. But nothing is more helpful than seeing yourself swing. What we think we are doing and what we are actually doing are often not the same. The reality is that there is no best way. Rembrandt ain’t Van Gogh and vice-versa. Every golfer can learn from tech, and every golfer can learn from having good old fashioned know how. Bramble Chamblee wants attention and he’s getting it.

    • yo!

      Nov 8, 2013 at 1:41 pm

      As much as I hate to give Chamblee credit, what you just said is what Chamblee advocates about finding one own’s swing.

  16. mick

    Nov 6, 2013 at 8:27 pm

    So what if Brandel offers some different opinions? The GC is so damn sterile (Lerner Tilghman Rosaforte G Williams), it is good to have a bit of color and perspective!

  17. mkdrep

    Nov 6, 2013 at 6:06 pm

    Gang, EVERY SINGLE TOUR PLAYER uses technology. They ALL use video and now trackman. Video and trackman are the basics that the tour players coaches use. A few tour players have gone beyond these two pieces of technology, but so what? They all feel if they don’t use video and trackman they will be left in the dust and they are right, they will be left in the dust!!

  18. Regis

    Nov 6, 2013 at 5:51 pm

    Been playing for 50 years (since I was a kid) Been to a lot of golf schools and taken all types of lessons. Launch monitors and video are excellent aids BUT there are very few golfers even regular golf junkies who maintain the same swing from round to round and that is why I think there can be too much reliance on this technology. For a pro or low single digit fine, but for your average mid capper not so much. How many times have you been fit for clubs based on launch angle swing speed trajectory etc., only to find out that the chosen clubs don’t deliver over the course of a season?

  19. Lou

    Nov 6, 2013 at 3:29 pm

    I intensely dislike Chamblee as an anouncer, but he may have a point. There might be such a thing as too much technology and science in the golf swing. The golf swing is a dy amic action of a couple seconds; try ing to use slow motion video and freeze frames to break it down into a number of positions overcomplicates things. I think every good golfer knows the keh to a good swing is good rhythm, trying to get hink of umpteen positions during a full swing will kill rhythm. I think technology is helpful for identifying faults, but saying you need to get to this or that position at this point of the swing is razy talk. I have seen slomo vids of all the greats and no two players swung it the same way. Impact positions were similar, but they all used different methodd to get there.

  20. chowchow

    Nov 6, 2013 at 3:05 pm

    bumble CHUMPBLEE Less than $1 million in career earnings. One a rain shortened Joe Nobody Golf Tournament by 1 shot(he would have lost if the rain delay didn’t happen) giving advice on the golf swing is like Attila the Hun giving Human Rights Speaches.

    Adam Scott is the product of the new swing. Jim Furyck is the product of the old swing style. Both work. Chumpblee is making a lot of enemies in the golf biz. It will be interesting at the PGA Show. Every year always so juicy laundry being released by somebody who was wronged. Where is a better place to dump dirty laundry? Guys sit around grinding on that axe blade.. then sink it into somebodies back. AND 95% of the time… the dirty laundry being flung around is the truth. Golf is a dirty nasty business. When money is involved, there are no morals or character. I am sure Chumpblee will be the talk.

    • Fred Bluhm

      Nov 11, 2013 at 5:51 pm

      Chow – thanks for clearing up Chamblee’s career – one so glorious that he feels he’s qualified to give out advice to the likes of Tiger Woods. I’ve noticed since this whole episode with Tiger that the Golf Channel has taken to introducing Chamblee as “PGA Tour winner Brandel Chamblee.” I think ESPN has got the right idea: list the commentator’s resume’ next to him or her while they’re on the air. In effect, the network is stating – this is why we feel the commentator has the qualifications to commentate on the issue at hand. I think Mr. Palmer needs to re-evaluate his on-air talent.

  21. HB

    Nov 6, 2013 at 2:31 pm

    WD looks a bit guilty of overreach in this article. But, at least he is honest about it as you can grasp the overreach from the material he provided in the article (Chamblee is critical of folks “watching *and* obsessing over videotape,” which is different than having “extremely negative opinion of teaching pros that use technology to help their students”).

    The fact is, you have to dig your game out of the dirt. And, a teacher can help tremendously with that process. Unfortunately, there are very few instructors who believe in and can adjust themselves to that process. But, they do exist.

  22. Jim M

    Nov 6, 2013 at 2:16 pm

    I agree with BC. I think the swing is “art” as well, please see: Lee Trevino, Arnold Palmer, Moe Norman, Jim Furyk and the list goes on. I also understand that it is 2013 and we are in technological times and if someone can transform their swing from more of an art to “science” for better performance I get that too. I’m not sure if “science” is killing the game as I know I play better now with my new clubs and ball than I did 15-20 years ago. Times change and I can change with them…maybe BC should try as well.

  23. nb1062

    Nov 6, 2013 at 12:20 pm

    Is this GOLFWRX or the Bash Brandel website? I think that’s the only thing anyone can write about on this site.

  24. Russ

    Nov 6, 2013 at 9:36 am

    Once again WD is spot on! Keep up the good work Wayne.

  25. nick tuddy

    Nov 6, 2013 at 6:17 am

    The ‘coach’ in an ideal world should have all the technology in the world and understand all of it.
    The art in coaching is knowing the student and their personal capacity mentally and physically to pass on information in the right way in the right amount.
    The art in golf can be unquestionably enhanced by science
    The more I understand about the ‘new school’ I have even more respect for ‘old school’
    I understand impact better than most and can explain it better than most – where the club is going, where it is pointing – I have been in a privileged position to learn this information as it came to light. This technology is adding to golfers worldwide each day
    When you know better (Measure) you can do better
    I went from a 4 handicap for 17 years to plus 3 – understanding club path and face angle was a huge plus for me achieving my results – I went 2 steps back because it was too much as I had to learn this for my work at the time but then I took many steps forward. Like anything in life it is a balance and golf will not take style out of golf nor opinion but it may debunk a few ‘ideas/opinions’ like drills that do and don’t work or commentators who do and don’t understand measured facts.

  26. vince guest

    Nov 6, 2013 at 4:26 am

    Chamblee’s comments are somewhat valid with respect to the overuse of technology.I think he’s just concerned with players trying to perfect positions within a 2 second dynamic movement using constant video analysis.When he talks about art I guess he’s thinking in terms of controlling ball flight and trajectory by adhering to certain fundamentals and finding your own way(like Bubba).Take my favourite player Seve,a swing,though flawed,it was sensational to watch.It had flair,he learned with 1 club without video, and in his prime it was artistry at it’s finest.

  27. Fsubaseball21

    Nov 6, 2013 at 2:48 am

    I’m a teaching professional across the river from Wayne. I enjoy teaching “by eye” or “old school” but you will find in this day and age that this method may only be good for brand new golfers or very high handicappers . Those type of folks are more in need of basic swing mechanics. I would not offer video to my Golf Get Ready classes. That being said , Wayne is spot on when it comes to the importance of using modern day resources for teaching. In our line of work the end game is to help your students achieve goals. It’s all about progress. Just think when most of you go to Golfsmith or Dicks to buy that new driver you will test drive it on their swing monitor first and look at your statistical data before buying. I bet Chamblee did the same thing with his current driver. Basically that is what we do, use newer technology cause it tells us things that our eyes can’t. Chamblee is paid to talk on TV. We are paid to help folks get better at this great game that we all love.

    • chowchow

      Nov 6, 2013 at 3:11 pm

      Fsubaseball21 you could have put it better. Chumpblee has one of those modern day swings. Guy just runs his mouth. I think he is auditioning for Fox Sports. Be a real good place for him.

  28. C

    Nov 6, 2013 at 2:23 am

    I enjoyed reading this article, thank you for your time. I feel chamblee goes too far with his comments. Instead of simply voicing his opinion in a professional manner, he has to throw in the “low blow” comment. Technology is not the cancer. Technology is what helps grow the game. Technology helps sell more equipment, employ more golf professionals, and makes the game more enjoyable for the weekend warrior. Chamblee, you should be thanking Mr. Woods for his contribution to the game. Without him, you may not be where you’re at right now.

  29. Mitch

    Nov 6, 2013 at 1:15 am

    BC is a tv personality with a longer leash than most. However please realize that he has a passion for the game that far exceeds his knowledge. Sometimes his love for golf and Tiger gets the better of him. He has publicly said that everyone in golf should give a part of their pay cheque to tiger woods. In his mind he can’t understand why Tiger would ever change his swing when he was winning majors. Also he mentions that Tiger should fire Sean. Which I fully endorse as the fact remains that Tiger hasn’t won a major in three years

  30. Marc

    Nov 5, 2013 at 5:35 pm

    I stopped watch the golf channel after I became sick of watching Chamblee and Michael Breed.

    • Fred

      Nov 6, 2013 at 5:50 pm

      Marc – good reply. More and more it’s like they’re having shouting matches with each other. You got all these people who never really amounted to much on the tour – if they played on it at all – telling players like Woods and others what they need to do to improve their game. It’s a joke! As for Chamblee, if for no other reason to mind his comments about Tiger, he should remember that the man how started the Golf Chanel, Mr. Palmer, loves Tiger Woods. From all appearances, Jack likes him, too. Chamblee and the others on the channel remind me of the old golf adage (that I just made up) – those who can, do… those who can’t, become commentators on the GC.

  31. Kevin Crook

    Nov 5, 2013 at 5:18 pm

    Chamblee was saying that relying too much on technology is the problem, not that technology itself is bad. There’s a heck of a lot of aspiring golfers out there who are toiling away on the range trying to make perfect swings instead of finding a balance between beating balls and learning how to score on the course. I love to use technology to learn about my bad swings, but I also like to take a bad swing to the first tee and see how low I can shoot that day.

  32. Phil

    Nov 5, 2013 at 5:12 pm

    Chamblee is an idiot for bashing launch monitors.

    Chamblee is right on his analysis w/ Tiger.

    Those two statements are opinions. Ask 100 teaching pros for your “fix” you could get 10 different answers. There are only a couple of facts of the golf swing, but millions of opinions.

    Spend more time getting to know who you feel comfortable with, and less time letting everyone else know how you feel about someone you don’t see eye to eye with.

    This article was in the opinion section, and I think a valid POV.

  33. Brand Me Silly

    Nov 5, 2013 at 5:08 pm

    Also, fire Michael Breed.

  34. Brand Me Silly

    Nov 5, 2013 at 5:05 pm

    Brandel is bad for golf. Fire him.

  35. Rah

    Nov 5, 2013 at 4:41 pm

    Love this article , very well written and to the point… Might I add, if not for Tiger….. Many golfers would not be making these high sum purses and golf would not be as popular as it is ….. Believe it or not , Tiger is golf .

  36. RCM1301

    Nov 5, 2013 at 4:34 pm

    Wayne, you should thank your bankaccount for people like Chamblee who consistently talks about “flaws” in PGA players, therby bringing it under the attention of amateurs who next day run to you to get it fix. You should thank him, not kill the goose laying your golden eggs!

  37. RCM1301

    Nov 5, 2013 at 4:21 pm

    Wayne, you do not like to be critized, but you do like to dish out critisism, especially Chamblee. Nice.

  38. naflack

    Nov 5, 2013 at 4:15 pm

    Good read Wayne.

    I don’t dislike brandel as a personality but I only take what these guys say with a grain of salt if I even watch then at all, which is pretty rare.

    I know for certain I would consult an unknown teaching pro before I would talk to a commentator or accomplished player about my swing. Being an exceptional player doesn’t guarantee that you can teach or that you should.

    • RCM1301

      Nov 5, 2013 at 4:31 pm

      Disagree. Not a great read. He contradicts himself constantly. One minute he is for technology. Next moment he clarifies not to rely too much… He says cannot understand how teachers cannot teach without video. Well, the ease and use of video in golf teaching is not even 10 years old.

      • naflack

        Nov 5, 2013 at 6:50 pm

        That’s the beauty of freedom…
        I can think one way and you can think another.

      • wayne defrancesco

        Nov 5, 2013 at 9:35 pm

        I had a video camera in 1981. You had to carry the entire VCR unit with you and hook the camera up to it. By my count that’s 30+ years of video. And who says I don’t like to be criticized? Just ask my wife. She thinks I love it!

        • chowchow

          Nov 6, 2013 at 3:19 pm

          Wane don’t pay attention to these trolling idiots who can’t break a 100 cheating.

          All the dirt swings mentioned.. all have said they wished they had the technology of today. Foley was chosen for a reason. To take the stress off his left knee. Going back to Butch wouldn’t have helped his knee. Butch was the one who really got him to drive up. Just like a lot of flame throwing fast ball pitchers that had to go to the “trick” pitches because there arms can’t take the torque.

          Wayne you are wasting time with 36 handicap imbeciles that always thin the old school way is right. Bank accounts say different

      • Alex

        Nov 5, 2013 at 11:55 pm

        Just because something is (relatively) new doesn’t mean it can’t qualify as a necessity.

        Especially when it’s revolutionized the game and teaching. It’s brought an entirely new level of analysis to teaching and practice. 90% of the tour pros out there use all of it, and they haven’t had their games fall apart due to it, so I’d say ya, it’s pretty much a necessity now.

        Video and trackman have rewritten the rules about golf instruction. Sure, there are plenty that don’t use it to teach, but YMMV. I think most people want to see results, and both of those tools make that possible in a way that wasn’t before.

  39. Al

    Nov 5, 2013 at 3:28 pm

    You say you want to make sure that announcers are held accountable for their statements. Please provide the factual basis for this statement: “but Chamblee longs for the days when ex-Tour players were the teachers”. Did Chamblee say this? Or is just your way to discredit his opinion? Hold yourself to the same standards you wish to hold others.

    • Milton

      Nov 5, 2013 at 4:17 pm

      I dislike BC because I feel he is bias againt Woods, but u are spot on Al. As a matter if fact I think too much technology does hurt players..They (I) did get obsessed with the swing and not the results. Great response.

      • Ian

        Nov 6, 2013 at 8:53 am

        Not sure about that statement too much technology hurts the pros. Last time I checked most of them are flying private jets making huge sums of cash,golfing at a level way beyond our wildest dreams. If the pros are doing it over an extended period of time with great success, It’s undoubtably the best way to do it.

      • chowchow

        Nov 6, 2013 at 3:21 pm

        ever hear.. practice with a purpose? do you know how to practice correctly.. I highly doubt it. Machine gunning some drivers straight down the range, isn’t practice.

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Beyond limits: Carbon bending and the future of shaft manufacturing



My name is James, and I am an equipment junkie. Like many of you, I am also a (mediocre) golfer struggling to take my golf game to the next level. But since I’m not so keen on hitting the range or the gym, I’m always searching for the next big breakthrough to help me avoid excessive practice and golf lessons.

TLDR: I am back to report that I may have found the ultimate breakthrough involving how golf shafts are manufactured. It will sound mind-boggling and counter-intuitive, but the new technology involves controlling a shaft’s variables of weight, flex (CPM), and torsional strength (torque) all independently of one another. As if this alone doesn’t sound far-fetched enough, it also purports to control the subjective aspect of how stiff the shaft feels without affecting the other variables.

To the best of my knowledge, I never knew any of these were possible, but seeing (and feeling) is believing, though I’m still reeling from my recent experience. Moreover, I dare predict that the sheer novelty of this discovery has the potential to redefine the golf shaft industry as we know it.

Also, the article is long. You’ve been warned.

In A League Of Their Own

Over the years, I have reported on several golf innovations and technologies that made golfers sit up and take notice. Of those finds, let me briefly recap two products that especially stood out before I unveil my most recent discovery further below.

Starting at number three, I present the now-famous Autoflex shaft by Dumina. Introduced in early 2020 during the COVID epidemic, the small Korean company claimed that their shafts didn’t use any flex designations and are to be selected solely based on a golfer’s swing speed. Against conventional wisdom, the company claimed that a super flexible, ultralight shaft can improve distance and accuracy for golfers of all swing speeds. The AF shaft, with its mysterious Korea Hidden Technology (KHT), sounded too good to be true, but more often than not, golfers who braved the steep price and the hot pink color agreed that the shaft seemed legitimate. Many also credit it with creating a whole new category of soft and hyper-flexible performance shafts.

Next in the number two spot is the groundbreaking FreeFlex shaft from SJ Golf Lab, also out of Korea. When the FF shafts surfaced in early 2023, I first thought they were a slightly improved version of the Autoflex. At weights and flex even softer than the AF, the shafts also improved distance and accuracy at a lower price point than their counterparts.

Upon delving further, FreeFlex Technology (FFT) was far more amazing than I could have ever imagined. Against the norm, the inventor of FFT claimed that a shaft’s weight, flex (CPM), and torque are NOT relative to each other and that each variable can be controlled separately. According to SJ Lab, a lightweight, flexible shaft with a strong torque was possible, and vice-versa. The incredulous claim went largely unnoticed at the time, but the folks at SJ Lab recently decided to prove their technology by introducing the ultimate unicorn of a shaft.

Aptly named ‘Hammer Throw’ the rubber-like shaft featured a conventional shaft’s weight of 62g yet measured only 140 CPM to be incredibly soft and flexible. To top it off, it also featured a strong 3.5 torque similar to an S-flex shaft, all unlikely numbers that have never been combined in a single shaft before. The Hammer Throw proved to be a wonder shaft for slower swingers, helping to increase club head speed, distance, and even accuracy.

Ultimately, SJ Lab redefined the concept of ‘shaft customization’ by proving that a shaft’s WT, CPM, and TQ can be controlled independently to any degree.

Featuring SJ Golf’s FFT technology, the Hammer Throw and FF38 also caught the attention of many WLD athletes with swing speeds over 150mph.

Mind-Bending Revelation

The AF and FF shafts are indeed quite amazing, but what I’m about to share with you may be an even bigger discovery than both of them combined.

It was a Thursday afternoon in October when I arrived at SJ Golf Lab. I had just finished a round of golf that morning and felt flush after having bested my buddies on a tough track. I was to cover the story of a new line of putter shafts (based on the Chaos Theory in physics, no less) and was looking forward to seeing if it could help my putting.

I was making small talk with Dr. Choi, the inventor & CEO of SJ Golf Lab, when a courier arrived to hand him a sealed envelope. Inside was a patent certificate for a new golf shaft manufacturing process, which was to be featured in SJ Lab’s latest MetaFlex series of shafts.

“Oh, that sounds interesting” I said politely. “Is it like FreeFlex technology?”

What came next was a barrage of information so contradictory and yet so transformative in its revelation that I forgot all about the putter shafts.

Entering The Realm Of The Senses

Carbon Bending Technology (CBT) is the latest brainchild of Dr. Choi, the inventor of FreeFlex shafts. As incredulous as his FFT may seem, his new CBT technology takes it even further by stating that a fourth variable, the shaft’s level of firmness, can also be controlled independently of the other variables.

“CBT technology involves bending or wrapping carbon in a certain way to control how stiff a shaft feels, independently of weight, flex, and torque.” – Dr. Seung-jin Choi, inventor of CBT Technology 

Take a moment to let that sink in. Not only is he saying that the objective values of WT, CPM, and TQ can be controlled in any manner desired, but he can also control the subjective aspect of how firm a
shaft feels.

If CBT technology is legitimately possible, the implications of his discovery are immense and may well change the way golf shafts are made. Needless to say, such a spectacular assertion begs the question, “How can such an improbable idea be possible?”

As I struggled to comprehend what I just heard, Dr. Choi handed me a shaft and asked me to try and bend it. Grabbing it at both ends, the shaft felt light and soft, and I was able to bend and flex it easily. I was then given another shaft and asked to do the same. The new shaft felt much firmer from the get-go, similar to what I’d expect from a typical S-flex shaft. When I said that the second shaft felt much stronger than the first, I was in for a rude awakening.

“They’re the same shafts” Dr. Choi said. “The only difference is that the second one was treated with the CBT process. Other than that, both are practically the same in CPM and torque.”

“What do you mean these are the same shafts? This one is definitely stiffer.” My eyebrow arched in puzzlement at such a blatant contradiction.

After all, I was holding both shafts in my hands, and no one in the world was going to convince me that these two had the same CPM and TQ measurements.

The skepticism in my voice must’ve been obvious as I was led to a measuring device. I wish I could’ve seen the look on my face at that exact moment when my eyes confirmed both shafts to have the same CPM and torque.

Two same-looking shafts measured similarly in CPM and torque, despite one feeling much stiffer.

Goosebumps broke out on my arms, and my brain felt numb. Stunned, I took turns grabbing each shaft by the ends and bent them over and over again. There was absolutely no doubt that one was stiffer than the other. It wasn’t even close. Yet, if the numbers don’t lie, how was I to reconcile the two empirical facts at odds with each other before my very eyes?

Seeing Is Believing… Or Is It?

After repeated measurements to ensure I wasn’t dyslexic, I regained enough sense to sit down with Dr. Choi to hear more about the sorcery of carbon bending.

ME: How does CBT differ from your earlier FFT technology?

CHOI: CBT came as a result of golfers loving our FreeFlex shafts with the FFT technology but wanting even more. The FFT allows us to control the weight, flex, and torque independently. We used this discovery to design a new breed of shafts that help all levels of golfers increase club head speed and distance. But some of the stronger, faster-speed golfers were eventually turned off from it, as they couldn’t get accustomed to the soft feel and flex. The fear of spraying the ball all over the course was just too much.

To solve this issue, I looked at many factors that led golfers to describe whether a shaft is soft or stiff. Similar to FFT, I soon discovered that a shaft’s stiffness is not relative to its CPM value. By reinforcing a shaft through a special process I call carbon-bending, it can be made to feel as stiff as I wish without changing the original CPM or torque.

ME: (blank stare)

CHOI: Did that answer the question?

ME: Uhh… no? What do you mean the CPM doesn’t change? If the shaft became stiffer, it means the CPM value must have increased, doesn’t it? How we perceive stiffness is subjective, so we measure the CPM value objectively with a machine. That way, we can compare the CPM values of different shafts to see which one is stiffer with the higher number.

CHOI: Normally yes, but like I said, how stiff the shaft feels does not have to correlate with the CPM. They are independently controllable. As I just showed you with the two shafts earlier, both measured at the same CPM and torque. It was only when I applied the CBT method to one of them that it became stiffer than before, as you have seen for yourself.

ME: Yeah, I’m still not sure how that is, feeling firm in my hands but the machine reading it as soft. Is this like the cat in Schrodinger’s box, where the cat is both alive and dead at the same time? This shaft is also both soft and firm simultaneously?

CHOI: Not quite. But how about this? What if the CPM measurement we currently use to gauge and compare stiffness between shafts is not the only method? What if there were other ways that we haven’t considered to control the feeling of firmness?

ME: So you’re saying you discovered a new way to objectively measure how we feel or perceive stiffness?

CHOI: I think it’s better to say that I realized that a shaft’s CPM and stiffness can be independent of each other, whereas before, we thought they were directly relative. It led to look for other ways to make the shaft firmer, which is what I did. In the process, it also made me think, what else are we missing? Maybe we’ve been limiting ourselves in believing there’s nothing new left to discover.

Shaft Manufacturing 101

According to Dr. Choi, the method of manufacturing carbon shafts has remained largely unchanged since 1979, when Taylormade first introduced the first graphite shaft that offered many advantages over conventional steel shafts. Since then, various new materials and technologies have made the shafts lighter and stronger, but the basic shaft-making process remains the same.

The making of a modern golf shaft consists of wrapping layers of prepreg (treated carbon fiber) sheets around a steel shaft (mandrel). As more layers are applied, the shaft becomes progressively thicker and heavier (WT), which makes the flex (CPM) stiffer and increases the torsional (TQ)

The characteristics of a shaft depend on the amount of material and how each layer is oriented on the mandrel. How this is done varies among OEMs.

The current method and its proportional relationship between WT, CPM, and TQ is widely accepted. However, it also presents a big challenge for shaft-makers, whose main goal is to make shafts that improve distance with more accuracy. This is because generating more club speed for more distance necessitates a light and flexible shaft; while improving shot accuracy requires the shaft to be firm in both flex and torsional strength.

To balance the trade-off as best they could, OEMs have continually researched new materials and higher-quality carbon, along with their own, often secret, ways of weaving and arranging the carbon prepreg. A good example to illustrate shaft improvement in this manner is the lighter 50-gram range of X-flex shafts, which were a rarity only a few years ago.

At least for now, 5X shafts seem to be the pinnacle of conventional shafts that can be made with the existing process.

Shaft Manufacturing 2.0

In physics, Force equals Mass multiplied by Acceleration (F=MA). The same can be applied to golf at impact, but since a golf club is designed to be in motion, its dynamic energy is calculated as Impulse=MAT, where T is the time the ball stays in contact with the club face.

Dr. Choi explained that increasing any of the three factors would transfer more energy to the ball (I).

In other words, by making the club head heavier (M), faster (A), and getting the ball to remain in contact with the clubface longer (T), the distance will increase as a result.

Now that we can get faster club head speed (FF shafts), how can the shaft be made to feel stiff while retaining a longer distance? The solution was surprisingly simple, as most discoveries tend to be at first.

“Imagine wearing a pair of skin-tight nylon stockings,” Dr. Choi said. “It’s tight, but you can still move and bend your knees easily.” Truth be told, I’d never worn stockings before, but I nodded to see where it would lead.

“If you were to put on one more, your legs will feel stiff, and with yet another, it’ll now be very difficult to even bend your knees,” he was building up towards a big reveal. “But no matter how stiff your legs now feel with the layers of stockings, you can still rotate them.” Come again?

“When you try to sit down, the legs will stick straight out like they’re in a cast, right? But you’d still be able to twist or rotate your leg [left and right] because the stockings are not exerting force in that direction.”

Dazed at the anticlimactic turn, I tried to recall the last time I had a cast but he plowed on. “The original characteristics of your legs don’t change because of the stockings. They’re still your legs, which are bendy and flexible.”

I may have missed a whole lot there, but loosely translated, CBT technology is like adding tight pairs of stockings to make a shaft feel firmer, but won’t change what the original shaft was in terms of
torque or CPM.

Helical Carbon Armour

Carbon bending involves a new step in the shaft manufacturing process, where a thin strip of carbon is helically wrapped tightly around the shaft to increase stiffness. This new sheath of armor will firm up the feel of the shaft but will not affect the CPM or torque. In addition, Dr. Choi’s in-depth research further showed that the width of the strip band and the spacing between the helical spirals all played a part in changing the characteristics of the shaft in minute ways.

Each shaft has been treated with CBT and using different carbon weave, band width, materials and alignment to display a unique characteristics that can be tailored to a golfer’s swing

The truly mind-blowing prospect of CBT, however, is its ability to create an endless number of unique shafts with specific performance characteristics. For example, the number of new shaft possibilities can reach tens or even hundreds of thousands, depending on various factors, including but not limited to the width and thickness of the band, the spacing and orientation of the helical spiral, the weave pattern of the band fabric, and each of the different materials that all of these factors can be applied to.

“Can you imagine a PGA tour pro being able to dial in a golf shaft to squeeze 99.9% of the performance potential from their favorite shaft, without giving up anything they prefer in WT, CPM, TQ, and now FEEL?” – SJ Golf Lab 2023 

If It Looks And Barks Like A Dog?

Several days later, I returned to SJ Lab to test the new MetaFlex CBT shafts. The lineup consisted of three driver shafts of 5H, 6H, 6.5M, and iron ix90 shafts (H for high kick, M for mid-kick). Again, the MF series is designed for faster-speed golfers who swing at least 100mph to well over 120mph. I purposely asked not to see the shaft specs beforehand, as I wanted to remain neutral in determining how the new shafts felt and performed.

Waggling the 5H shaft first, it felt similar in weight and flex to a typical R-shaft. I usually average a smooth swing of about 95 mph with my FF38, but the 5H shaft instinctively made me try to swing harder to compensate for the firmer feel. The good drives launched high and carried as far, with spin between 1900~2000 rpm. As I warmed up, I was hitting it quite well, despite swinging a bit harder than usual.

I had grown accustomed to swinging smoothly and in tempo with FF shafts, so it felt good to swing hard again and not worry about the head catching up. The overall distance was comparable with my own driver at 240~250 yards, so I guessed the 5H specs to be about 220 CPM and close to 4.0 torque. On the downswing, the shaft reminded me of the many 5S shafts I had been using before being turned onto softer shafts. I imagined I could play it well, but struggle to keep it straight on the back nine when I gradually get tired.

Next, the 6H shaft felt like a conventional 5S on the waggle, but much stiffer like a 5X shaft on the actual downswing. I guessed it to be about 230~240 CPM and 3.5 in torque, as I was only able to turn the club head over about one-third of the time. I got a couple out to 240 yards but the rest of the shots varied from a fade bordering on a slice interspersed with low pulls. I felt the shaft demanded more speed for it to show its potential, and my slower speed wasn’t making it sing as it should.

Lastly, the MetaFlex 6.5M told me right away that it was out of my league. The waggle reminded me of a Ventus or a Tensei shaft, and the actual swing was even stiffer and closer to a 6X shaft. As expected, my shots were mostly pushed dead right, as I couldn’t effectively load the shaft with speed.

When I tried to force the head to turn over, I’d overcompensate to flip the wrist and pull it low left. The few that managed to land on the fairway barely traveled 210 yards with a noticeable decrease in ball speed. I can usually muster enough muscle to make a typical stiff shaft work over nine holes at least, but the 6.5M felt like an iron rod.

Overall, MF shafts’ waggles felt similar to conventional aftermarket shafts and felt even firmer during the actual swing.

I was now ready to see the actual spec measurements of the three shafts.

I could never have imagined such numbers corresponding to the firmness I experienced with MetaFlex shafts.

“There’s no way these numbers are the actual specs,” I protested. “These are softer than my FF38, so how…?” Hearing my voice hit a high pitch, I quickly closed my mouth. I already knew to expect something different, but this? Trying to reconcile the stiffness with such low numbers was just as difficult as it was the first time I encountered this phenomenon.

For lack of a better comparison, imagine picking up a cute kitten to hear it purr, only to be shocked at hearing it bark like a big angry pitbull with its tail stepped on. Does this mean I can no longer use phrases like “seeing is believing,” What will happen to “if it looks like a dog and barks like a dog?”

More importantly, what does this mean for the future of golf shafts?

Implications For The Future

Deep down, I believe every golfer wants to increase their driver distance. It doesn’t matter if you average 150 yards or 300 yards. As golfers, the need to hit it farther is in our DNA.

Since discovering that longer, easier distance (and accuracy to boot) is possible with the advent of AF shafts, I’ve never looked back. When FreeFlex shafts debuted earlier this year, I switched all my shafts throughout the bag and couldn’t be happier. I’ve received dozens of similar emails from golfers who read about my experiences and took the plunge, mostly to their pleasant surprise.

As amazing as the shafts are, some scoffed at the absence of such shafts on professional tours. If they’re so good, why aren’t they used more? After all, a distance gain of 10 yards on drives can mean as much as 5-10 percent closer to the pin on approach shots for shorter putts, which can translate to millions of dollars in winnings. In fact, dozens of pros from all major tours have tried them, some openly and some in secret.

As a recreational golfer, I can live with an occasional OB if it means consistently out-driving my friends. But an elite tour pro for whom a single stroke may be worth millions? Not a chance. Even the best can become a psychological wreck if the shaft flexed more than Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime. Especially on the back nine of a major on Sunday afternoon.

But for the sake of argument, let’s suppose there exists a shaft that truly offers longer distance and accuracy of the soft FF shaft with the reassuring feel and playability of a stiff shaft. Better yet, what if your favorite shaft can be readjusted to fit all of your needs for maximum performance output and feel preferences? I’d bet my last Pro V1s that elite professional golfers will stop at nothing to have them tested and optimized to benefit each of their own swing metrics and performance. It’s in their DNA.

Dr. Choi also mentioned that he is nearing completion of his state-of-the-art swing and shaft diagnostic system, which can prescribe precisely the type of shaft (weight, flex, torque, feel, kick, kitchen sink?) needed for a player. And he builds it to that specification. Customization to the fullest.

As the company’s name implies, that is the ultimate goal of SJ Golf Lab and Dr. Choi, who hopes his shafts will come as a “Special Joy” for each and every golfer.

All in all, CBT certainly felt to me like the next evolutionary step in golf shaft technology.

So, what do you think? Can we trust the accuracy of the statements made by SJ Golf Lab? I would love to hear from other golfers and knowledgeable shaftoids in the industry, and what it can mean going forward.

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Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: The science of spin



Over my 30-plus years writing about equipment and designing wedges, I must have been asked thousands of times: “How do I get more spin with my wedge shots?” That seems like such a simple question, but the answer is as far from simple as you can get. So, today I’m going to try to break down the science of spin into its separate components.

The amount of spin imparted to the golf ball in any wedge shot will be affected by three basic things:

  1. The ball you play
  2. Your personal swing skills
  3. The specific wedges you play.

Let’s look at each of them.

The Ball

One very simple way to improve the spin you get with your wedge shots is to play a premium ball with a soft cover. The harder and usually less expensive balls typically have a firmer core and a cover that is more durable but doesn’t allow as much spin. You should experiment with various balls to see which gives you the optimum combination of distance and spin.

Your skills

We all know those golfers who seem to spin the ball better than others. That’s because they have honed their skills to make an accelerating, pure strike to the ball most of the time, and to make contact very low on the clubhead – elite players wear out a dime-sized spot on their wedges that is center-face and between the 2nd and 5th grooves. My bet is your wear pattern is more the size of a quarter or even half dollar and centered several grooves higher. You’ll see later why that is so important.

Anyone can learn to be a better wedge player by engaging a golf professional and spending lots more time practicing your wedge shots. I highly recommend both, but also realize that spin is greatly affected by swing speed as well. A strong player who can hit a gap wedge 120 yards is likely to generate much more spin than an equally skilled player who hits gap wedge only 90 yards.

Now we get to the fun part – how the specific wedges you are playing will affect the amount of spin you can impart to any given shot.

The wedges


Very simply, if you are playing a wedge that you’ve had for years, the grooves are likely well past worn out and are costing you valuable RPMs on every wedge shot. That said, no wedge brand has any measurable competitive advantage over another when it comes to groove technology. The USGA has not changed the rules on grooves in over a decade, and every premium brand of wedges is utilizing the best CNC-milling techniques to push those regulations to the limit. There’s just no story here. And my robotic testing indicates the total absence of grooves only reduces spin by 15-17 percent on a dry ball.

The Shaft

Yes, wedge shafts are that important. You should have shafts in your wedges that closely match the shafts in your irons in weight, material, and flex. This is particularly important if you have evolved to lighter and softer iron shafts. The exception to that is if you play X-flex shafts in your irons, take a tip from almost all tour professionals and opt for a slightly softer flex in your wedges.

Clubhead Design

What is much more important to make a wedge “spin-ier” is the design of the clubhead itself. While wedges really didn’t change much for decades, over the past few years, every major wedge brand has begun to position a bit more mass in the top section of the wedge clubhead. This repositioning of mass raises the CG a bit and improves the “gear effect,” which enhances spin on every wedge shot.

While they all are doing so to a different degree, most are held back by their reliance on their tour professionals’ input. Those elite players already spin the ball as much as necessary, and they don’t need or want more spin in their wedge shots. But that isn’t in your best interest.

This subject simply cannot be addressed without referencing my own work in wedge design for over thirty years. My wedges for Reid Lockhart, EIDOLON, SCOR, Ben Hogan and now Edison Golf have put increasingly more mass in the top half of the clubhead to help recreational golfers get more spin on all their wedge shots. I’m flattered that all major brands are finally starting to follow my pioneering of this design concept, because it works.  (Caliper measurement reveals that none of today’s wedges even have as much mass above center-face as my original Reid Lockhart wedges did in the mid-1990s)

Regarding my reference to tour players’ skills and their dime-sized wear pattern earlier, by striking their wedge shots so low in the face, they are optimizing spin on their traditional “tour design” wedges, because it maximizes the amount of clubhead mass above the point of impact. We all know that “thinned” wedge shot that flies low but has sizzling spin – same concept.

To help explain how this CG placement affects spin, look at what has happened in drivers, fairways, hybrids, and now irons.

As the “launch monitor wars” have come to dominate club-fitting (and selling!), the “holy grail” of distance is high launch and low spin. The engineers are achieving this by continuously finding ways to put maximum mass low in the clubhead with carbon crowns, tungsten inserts and thin faces. But good wedge play is all about penetrating trajectories and optimum spin — and all that mass in the bottom of the wedge head is exactly the opposite of what is needed to deliver that ball flight.

Final thoughts

I’ll also leave you with this thought on getting maximum spin on your intermediate-range wedge shots.  You are quite likely to discover you actually get more spin with your 52- to 54-degree wedge than with your higher-lofted 56 to 60. That’s because the ball is less likely to slide up the clubface, which causes loss of spin and higher ball flight. Give it a try to see for yourself.

This has been one of my longer posts, but the topic is worthy of a full explanation. I hope the “science of spin” is much less mysterious now.

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19th Hole

Vincenzi’s RSM Classic betting preview: Experienced heads likely to contend at Sea Island



The final full-field event of the 2023 fall season has arrived. The PGA TOUR heads just south of Augusta for the RSM Classic at Sea Island Golf Club (Seaside and Plantation courses) in St. Simons Island, Georgia.

Each golfer will play three rounds on the Seaside course and one round on the Plantation course.

The Seaside course is a par-70 layout measuring 7,005 yards, and the Plantation course is a par-72 setup coming in at 7,062 yards. The Seaside course, which was redesigned by Tom Fazio, plays more like a coastal links, while the Plantation course is similar to a tree-lined parkland course. Both feature Bermudagrass greens and will be very scorable. The past five winners of the event have all finished between -19 and -22.

Some notable players in the field include Brian Harman, Ludvig Aberg, Si Woo Kim, Akshay Bhatia, Cameron Young, Billy Horschel, Matt Kuchar, Russell Henley, Taylor Pendrith and Corey Conners.

Past Winners at The RSM Classic

  • 2022: Adam Svensson (-19)
  • 2021: Talor Gooch (-22)
  • 2020: Robert Streb (-19)
  • 2019: Tyler Duncan (-19)
  • 2018: Charles Howell III (-19)
  • 2017: Austin Cook (-21)
  • 2016: Mackenzie Hughes (-17)
  • 2015: Kevin Kisner (-22)

Let’s take a look at several metrics for Sea Island Golf Club to determine which golfers boast top marks in each category over their last 24 rounds:

Strokes Gained: Approach

The greens at Seaside are big, so it will be important to stick approach shots close to avoid having to make difficult two-putt par saves. In what should be a birdie-fest, golfers will need to stick their approach shots to contend.

Total Strokes Gained: Approach in past 24 rounds:

  1. Sam Ryder (+24.8)
  2. Russell Knox (+22.4)
  3. J.T. Poston (+20.3)
  4. Eric Cole (+18.8)
  5. Alex Smalley (+18.4)

Good Drives Gained

Length really isn’t a factor at either course. Looking at the past winners at Sea Island, they’re all accurate golfers off of the tee who know how to find the fairway. However, over the past few years, “Good Drives Gained” has been a much more predictive statistic at this event than “Fairways Gained.”

Total Good Drives Gained in past 24 rounds:

  1. Russell Henley (+22.7)
  2. Brendon Todd (+21.8)
  3. Tyler Duncan (+21.7)
  4. Martin Laird (+20.6)
  5. J.J. Spaun (+20.5)

Strokes Gained Putting: Bermudagrass

This tournament could become a putting contest if the winds aren’t strong this week. Historically, the winners of the RSM Classic are great Bermudagrass putters (Simpson, Kisner and Hughes).

Total Strokes Gained: Putting on Bermuda in past 24 rounds:

  1. Maverick McNealy (+27.7)
  2. Chad Ramey (+25.3)
  3. Martin Trainer (+23.0)
  4. Justin Suh (+22.7)
  5. Taylor Montgomery (+22.5)

Birdie or Better Gained

With birdies (and potentially some eagles) likely to come in abundance, pars aren’t going to cut it at Sea Island. I anticipate the winning score to be close to -20, so targeting golfers who go low is the right strategy here.

Total strokes gained in Birdie or Better Gained in past 24 rounds

  1. Eric Cole (+31.4) 
  2. J.T. Poston (+21.3)
  3. Ludvig Aberg (+20.9)
  4. Luke List (+20.7)
  5. Justin Suh (+16.1)

Strokes Gained: Par 4 (400-450)

With eight of the par 4s on the Seaside course measuring 400-450 yards, I’m looking to target golfers who excel on par 4s of this length.

Total strokes gained in category in past 24 rounds:

  1. Russell Henley (+21.1)
  2. Denny McCarthy (+13.4) 
  3. Matthias Schmid (+12.8)
  4. Callum Tarren (+12.6) 
  5. Ryan Moore (+11.4)

Statistical Model

Below, I’ve reported overall model rankings using a combination of the five key statistical categories previously discussed.

These rankings are comprised of SG: App (25%); Good Drives Gained (21); SG: Putting Bermudagrass (21%); B.O.B (21%); and SG: Par 4 400-450 (12%)

  1. Russell Henley (+2200)
  2. Sam Ryder (+9000)
  3. Chesson Hadley (+6500)
  4. Brendon Todd (+5000)
  5. Eric Cole (+3500)
  6. J.T. Poston (+3500)
  7. Stephan Jaeger (+4000)
  8. Matthias Schmid (+6000)
  9. Brian Harman (+2000)
  10. Austin Smotherman (+25000)

2023 RSM Classic Picks

Matt Kuchar +4000 (DraftKings)

There are plenty of players at the top of the odds board who have a strong chance to contend this week, but few have had the recent repetitions that Matt Kuchar has had. The veteran is in fantastic form and felt as if his game was in great shape heading into the World Wide Technologies Championship, where he came agonizingly close to victory.

Kuchar has three top-19 finishes in his last four starts worldwide, including the runner-up in his most recent start. At one point, he had a six-shot lead before making a disastrous quadruple bogey on the 15th hole during his third round. Many expected Kuchar to struggle on Sunday after blowing such a big lead, but he performed admirably and would have won if Erik Van Rooyen didn’t shoot a ridiculous -8 on the back nine.

The 45-year-old currently lives in St. Simons, Georgia so will be right at home playing at Sea Island this week. His history at the course isn’t as spectacular as one would think given how well the course fits him on paper, but he does have four top-30 finishes at the event since 2013.

In five of Kuchar’s six wins since 2012, he’s had a top-5 finish in one of his three previous starts leading up to the win. I believe his start at the WWT was a foreshadowing of a looming victory.

Billy Horschel +4000 (DraftKings)

After struggling for much of the 2022-2023 season, Billy Horschel has finished the top 20 in five of his past six worldwide starts including a T14 finish in his most recent start at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in October.

Horschel hasn’t played the RSM Classic with regularity but finished in 2nd place at the event back in 2016 where he lost to Mackenzie Hughes in a playoff. The course is a perfect fit for Billy, who’s not overly long off the tee and putts incredibly well on Bermudagrass.

Billy will come into the event as motivated as ever to contend on a course that he should be able to pick apart. With seven career PGA Tour wins, there’s no doubt that Horschel is a closer who will be able to keep his composure down the stretch.

Harris English +6000 (DraftKings)

After a 2021 Ryder Cup appearance, Harris English has had an inconsistent two seasons on the PGA Tour. However, the Sea Island resident finished the season on an encouraging note, finishing 10th at the BMW Championship.

English has a mixed history at Sea Island, but he does have a 6th place finish in 2020. He finished 29th last year, but a final round 65 may be an indication that the 34-year-old figured something out at the course that he grew just a few hours away from.

It’s a bit concerning that English has been off since August, but he’s played well off of layoffs in the past. Last year, he finished 9th at the Fortinet off a 6-week break. In 2021, he won the Sentry Tournament of Champions off of a 5-week break. This break has been a bit longer, but the extra time may not be a major detriment.

Enlgish is a better player than he’s shown over the past 18 months, and I believe he’s in store for a resurgent season that may start this week in Sea Island.

Taylor Pendrith +6500 (DraftKings)

Taylor Pendrith is in fantastic form. In his past three starts, he’s finished 3rd, 15th and 8th. Despite not seeming like a great course fit at Sea Island on paper, he’s had some great history at the course throughout his career.

Last year, Pendrith finished 15th at the event, gaining 5.4 strokes on approach. He also came into the event while playing some below average golf and still managed to hit it great at Sea Island. In 2021, he finished 26th despite missing the cut in two previous starts as well as the following start. I believe now that the Canadian is coming into the event playing some incredibly consistent golf he should be a serious threat to contend deep into the weekend.

Ben Griffin +7500 (DraftKings)

Just a week ago, Ben Griffin was 22-1 and one of the betting favorites at the Butterfield Bermuda Championship. Although some top end players such as Ludvig Aberg, Brian Harman and Cameron Young have been added to this field, I still believe the drop all the way down to this price gives Griffin a ton of value this week.

The North Carolina hasn’t built up an extensive course history at Sea Island just yet, but he did finish 29th at the event last season. The 27-year-old fired an opening round 65 to start his week and then shot two more rounds in the 60’s after a second round 71. His experience last season should be helpful in his pursuit of a victory this time around.

Sea Island should suit Griffin perfectly. In his past 24 rounds, he ranks 15th in the field in both Strokes Gained: Approach and in Strokes Gained: Putting on Bermudagrass. His sharp iron play and ability to hole putts on Bermuda make him an ideal candidate for to contend at Sea Island.

Alex Smalley +8000 (DraftKings):

The past five events in the PGA Tour’s swing season have given us winners who’ve already won on Tour multiple times. The fa oll is typically a time for first-time Tour winners to shine, and among the top candidates to accomplish that this week is Alex Smalley.

Smalley has contended a few times thus far in his career and one of those times was at last year’s RSM Classic. A consistent effort of 67-66-67-67 resulted in the Greensboro, North Carolina resident finishing in a tie for 5th place for the week. It’s no surprise that Smalley likes Sea Island given the amount of golf he’s played in the area and his knack for playing well on shorter courses.

The Duke graduate is beginning to round into form, finishing 30th last week at the Butterfield Bermuda Championship fueled by a final round 65 (-6). Smalley has done his best work on easier courses and the course should provide plenty of birdie opportunities for the 25-year-old.

Kevin Kisner +25000 (DraftKings):

Kevin Kisner has been playing incredibly poorly by his standards since his win at the Wyndham Championship in August of 2021, however Camilo Villegas’ win last week showed us how quickly things can change.

Kisner has shown some minimal signs of improvement during the fall season, finishing 62nd and 51st in his two starts at the Fortinet Championship and the Sanderson Farms Championship. More importantly, Kisner gained 1.8 strokes on approach at the Country Club of Jackson, which was his best approach performance since November of 2022. Going back to the Villegas example, while he was in the midst of a twelve-start stretch where he didn’t finish better than 54th, the Colombian gained 4.0 strokes on approach in a missed cut at the Sanderson Farms Championship in a missed cut. Clearly, he found something and went on to finish 2nd and 1st in his next two starts.

If there’s a course that Kisner may be able to find “it” on, it’s Sea Island. Kisner is a former Georgia Bulldog who’s won here in 2015, lost in a playoff in 2020 and has two additional top-7 finishes since his win. At long odds, “Kiz” is worth a sprinkle on one of his favorite tracks.

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